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Christian Liberty — Where To Draw The Line

By John A. Huffman, Jr.
Sixteenth in a series

1 Corinthians 10:31-1 Corinthians 11:1

So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do everything for the glory of God. Give no offense to Jews or to Greeks or to the church of God, just as I try to please everyone in everything I do, not seeking my own advantage, but that of many, so that they may be saved. Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ.

You and I live our lives in a complex cultural setting. I find myself struggling to know what is right, what is wrong and what is best of multiple alternatives in complicated situations.

There are many ethical issues that are clear-cut. Let's assume that we all agree to biblical authority. We know that on those matters in which God has spoken clearly to us through His Word, we are called to clear-cut obedience. There is no room for double-mindedness in the Christian life. We cannot grow as men and women of God if, at one moment, we are handling sacramental elements of the bread and wine in remembrance of Christ's sacrifice on our behalf and then, the next minute, bowing to pagan idol worship before whatever creature is competing for that place in our life that belongs only to Jesus Christ.

We've observed our own schizoid tendencies. We have watched others who have flirted as close as possible to the world, only to become seduced by it, losing their close relationship with the Lord, sometimes in ways so subtle or so blatant. Paul states it clearly, "You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons. You cannot partake of the table of the Lord and the table of demons" (1 Corinthians 10:21).

It's so important for us to know those clear-cut teachings of God's Word. What the Bible says "do," we are called to do. When the Bible says "don't," we better obey and not do. Our attention is drawn to passages such as the Ten Commandments in Exodus 20:1-7. How helpful it is to have such clear-cut standards. The first four deal with our relationship with God, and the last six deal with our interpersonal relationships. How indebted I am to the Lord for giving us such clear-cut teachings in both the Old and New Testaments. We need to be empowered by His Holy Spirit to obey what are the clear-cut teachings of His Word.

However, not all circumstances we face are quite so clear-cut. There are those difficult areas. Tensions exist between Christians who have differences of opinions as to what is responsible and irresponsible behavior. Tensions exist between Christians who have differences of opinion in terms of biblical interpretation regarding matters on which the Bible isn't all that clear. It is possible for one to get caught up in the extremes, missing that dynamic balance which God intends for us to experience. There are those ethical gray areas. I can be tied up in knots as a sincere Christian who desperately desires not to be too narrow or too broad.

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